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Dietary Supplements

What are dietary supplements?

Adding anything to your regular diet to improve your health or healing is considered a dietary supplement. Dietary supplements may include:

  • Vitamins

  • Minerals

  • Herbs

  • Homeopathic products other than homeopathic medicines listed in the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the U.S.

  • Certain food products

Dietary supplements can be purchased at grocery stores, health food stores, and pharmacies. Dietary supplements come in many forms:

  • Pills

  • Capsules

  • Liquids

  • Meal replacement bars

  • Cookies

  • Powders

  • Elixirs

  • Teas

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reports widespread use of vitamin supplements.

Besides multivitamins, many dietary supplements target special needs and age groups. But all of a person's nutritional needs can be met by eating a balanced diet. Some people who may need special dietary supplements include:

  • Pregnant or nursing women

  • Young children

  • Vegetarians and vegans

  • People who abuse alcohol

  • People who are ill or frail

  • Postmenopausal women

Taking heavy doses of dietary supplements has not proven to be effective. In fact, it can be toxic. The National Institutes of Health does not recommend supplementing the diet with vitamins or nutrients beyond the recommended daily allowances (RDAs). Always check with your healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplements. Some supplements may interfere with prescription medicines you may be taking. 

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How Much Do You Know About Stroke?

Stroke is a leading cause of death and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability, according to the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Stroke Association (ASA). The ASA reports that strokes are the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. Find out more about stroke by taking this quiz, based on information from the AHA and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

1. What is another name for a stroke?
2. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel to the brain.
3. Which of these is a symptom of stroke?
4. Which of these lifestyle factors plays the biggest role in increasing the risk for stroke in younger adults?
5. If a person has an ischemic stroke, how quickly should the person be treated to minimize long-term problems?
6. Which type of medicine is given to help prevent a stroke?
7. Which of these may be a long-term problem after a stroke?
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